Sunday, 29 December 2013

Aryan Kaganof's review of Off-ramp

the debt to raymond carver is obvious, nonetheless gary cummiskey forges territory that is all his own in this collection that, bejewelled as it is with his astringent surrealist prose, might well be described as a “gem” were it not for the final story, entitled “space”, that lends the collection a certain brownish pucker. this dark opening of a story is the book’s highlight, brilliantly chosen to end at the bottom so to speak. south african literary fiction has thirsted for a well-written poepgat, but now, having grown curious about gary cummiskey’s anus, our earlier revulsion withdraws into the background as the goal of penetrating and exploring the taboo of unknown darkness becomes foremost in our minds. the poepgat is central in understanding our collective national psyche here in africa south south (ass), where all who, after marikana, still believe in the rainbow mythology are well and truly assholes. bravo!

first published here 

Interview with Gary Cummiskey on Ppigpenn

Name? Gary Cummiskey

Age? 50.

Location? Johannesburg, South Africa.

How long have you been writing? I wrote my first short story, about Mary, Queen of Scots, when I was 11. I wrote my first poem, influenced by Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, aged 14 – it was about a dying albatross. I have been writing ever since.

Do you have a specific writing style? Not really, but my main influences have been the surrealists and the Beats. These influences probably play a role in my approach to writing, rather than on style. Besides, as Proust said: “Style is a matter of vision, not technique.”

Read more here

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Kobus Moolman's Left Over reviewed by Sheila Black

Left Over (Dye Hard Press, 2013) by Kobus Moolman is the kind of book that takes you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you. These are poems to wake you up. Well-known in his native South Africa, Kobus Moolman deserves to be better known and better read here. Lyric, vigilant, hyper-alert to the surfaces, textures and sensations of the physical world, the poems in Moolman's sixth collection are beautiful and dangerous, a meditation on the fraught and even perilous relationship of mind and body...Read more here

Saturday, 07 December 2013

Bob Dylan in Jack Kerouac's Lowell ...1975

Published by  Beat Scene Press, Coventry, England. Visit for more details. 

Friday, 06 December 2013

Thursday, 05 December 2013

William Burroughs/ Local Stop on the Nova Express

Published by Inkblot Publications, Rhode Island, USA. 
Contact Aftermath Books at for more information.  

Friday, 29 November 2013

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Rachel Zadok reading Off-ramp

Cape Town writer Rachel Zadok posted this self-portrait on Twitter, and described Off-ramp as "an artwork by Jo'burg's literary Max Ernst, Gary Cummiskey".

Friday, 22 November 2013

The assumption of sound

The year of the short story

Article from the Melville-Northcliff Times on the launch of Off-ramp at Love Books, November 13.

Friday, 15 November 2013

New Book, New Broom, New Coin - the launch of Off-ramp, by Rene Bohnen

Die virus tref haar tussen twee verkeersligte naby Wespark. Sy sweet en bestuur, sweet en bestuur, konsentreer deur die spitsverkeer en die yskoue prikkels in haar voete en hande. Genadiglik maak sy dit tot by die parkeer-area, sluit die motor en storm dramaties verby die wit tafels met die wynglase, verby die silwer ysemmer en camembert-broodjies, tot by die badkamer. Hoe lank bly sy daar, nee sy weet nie – deur die venster hoor sy vaagweg hoe lag en gesels die gaste wat nou reeds aangekom het vir die boekbekendstelling. ʼn Skoonmaker kom in met emmer en mop, verbaas om ʼn vrou op die vloer te sien lê naby die wasbak. Is daar fout, wil sy weet. Nee, antwoord die vrou, ek is doodreg, ek het kom foto’s neem. Ek voel soos ʼn karakter in ‘n film van David Lynch, dink sy. Of in een van Gary Cummiskey se kortverhale...Read more here

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Gary Cummiskey appointed New Coin editor

Grahamstown, 13th November 2013: Well-known South African poet and publisher, Gary Cummiskey, is to become the editor of poetry magazine New Coin from 2014, taking over from this year’s guest editor, Vonani Bila. A widely published writer, Cummiskey is based in Johannesburg where he runs Dye Hard Press and a number of other poetry projects.

Cummiskey’s poetry and short stories have been featured extensively in literary journals both locally and overseas for the past 20 years.  He founded Dye Hard Press in 1994 specifically to give a platform to new voices, and has since published over thirty titles from local poets. He sees his New Coin editorship as a fresh opportunity to promote the kind of challenging, original work that keeps South African poetry alive and awake:

“A poetry that is restricted and does not offer the reader anything new adds to the view of poetry as something stuffy and dead that has no resonance with contemporary readers and makes publishers even less likely to take a chance on it.  A journal such as New Coin, which has always focused on writing that is willing to break out of the mould and take risks, is an essential vehicle to continue to promote and offer poetry as a form worthy of attention and admiration.”

New Coin was founded in 1965 by Guy Butler and Ruth Harnett and is published twice a year by the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) at Rhodes University.  Cummiskey will work with an editorial board made up of the four poets who teach on the Rhodes MA in Creative Writing course: Mxolisi Nyezwa, Brian Walter, Joan Metelerkamp and Robert Berold – the last two of whom have edited New Coin in the past.

Berold comments: “Gary Cummiskey has a good grasp of the range of voices and sub-cultures that make up South African poetry in English.  His approach to publishing is the only way to keep poetry vital.  His appointment is good news for South African poetry.”

Subscribe now to get both the June and December 2013 issues of New Coin for R170. Email or call 046 603 8565.  

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Poetry that creates an interactive space: a review of Khulile Nxumalo's fhedzi, by Kyle Allan

fhedzi, subtitled iamgoingtoknowgwalopatterns, is the second volume of poetry published by innovative South African poet Khulile Nxumalo.

He continues in his craftsman’s ability to take words and syntax, and the process of language and the meaning attached to everyday symbols, and startlingly evokes fresh and potent perceptions of reality.

His technical ability to play with normal notions of time, space, the nature of the political and reality, reveals the sense of unease in contemporary existence. This encourages the reader to continue beyond the poem, to engage more critically with the larger text that is society.

It is a boldly pan-African voice that breathes in many iconoclastic continental influences. The words trumpet in an interactive space where language and reality make each other. The reader can visualise a restless electric choreography in the words. The subtitle comes from the decorative geometric Ndebele patterns and paintings known as Mgwalo, and this echoes the way the poems and their language encircle each other with meaning.

To understand fhedzi, you have to think of the words inhabiting an interactive space—much like the geometric drawings — which interact with culture, cosmology and the real world around them. They reflect patterns within reality — the order and disorder co-existing.The language both creates new patterns and destroys clichéd patterns of speech and belief through its ability to estrange even ordinary speech effectively.

The incorporation of different languages embraces the reality of poetry as a dialogue of culture, a process in which language itself evolves.The title is TshiVenda, meaning “only, but almost, nearly”, which is also a contraction of fhedzani, meaning “to complete”.

The language expands to both participate in reality and recreate perceptions of reality with its metaphors and poetic syntax. This is a highly skilled technicalwork that evokes the surrealism and interlocking process of South African society. It is a strong read, albeit probably heavy for the layman at first attempt.

(Published in The Witness, September 27, 2013) 

Launch of Off-ramp by Gary Cummiskey on November 13 at Love Books, Melville

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review of Kobus Moolman's Left Over

The mostly nameless poems in Left Over, Moolman's sixth collection, are hard to crack at first. Sense emerges from the whole, rather than the constituent parts.

A bleak narrative unfolds the story of a mind adrift in a body that requires from both narrator and reader absolute attention.

The feeling of containment within skin, set off against the boundary-less flapping into madness of the mind, is intensely and carefully carried through the whole work.  Progression hides inside the repetition that manifests itself in each poem in the corporeal.

Moolman uses simple, exact language to delve into abysses where the usual boundaries between inside and outside, between body and mind, should exist. The reader's fine attention and engagement are required, and richly rewarded.

Karin Schimke

(Published in Cape Times) 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Second book means it’s read poet’s society

After watching the award- winning poet, Khulile Nxumalo, perform on the opening night of Poetry Africa at UKZN, I woke up early the next day and in the rising Durban spring sun read some of his poems from his latest book, fhedzi.

What was surprising was that, unlike many of his counterparts who chose on the previous night one long poem for their five minutes on stage, Nxumalo chose four short poems. Yet, in fhedzi he has used longer forms of poetry in almost all of the published work...Read more here

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Kobus Moolman wins 2013 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award

Kobus Moolman has won the 2013 Sol Plaatje European Union Award for his poem “Daily Duty”. Moolman was announced as the winner on Saturday evening at the 17th annual Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival, where The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol III, comprising the best poems by the shortlistees, was also launched...Read more here

Moolman's latest poetry collection, Left Over, is published by Dye Hard Press

Friday, 18 October 2013

Poetraits by Henry Denander

Poetraits, a collection of watercolour portraits by Henry Denander, published by Bottle of Smoke Press, Delaware, US.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

An infinite variety of form: A review of Allan Kolski Horwitz's There are Two Birds at my Window

When you scan the title of this volume, you make an important discovery: the personal pronoun is unstressed, and that is the key to appreciating a remarkable poet. The stressed parts are the two birds and the window. The birds symbolise the world and the soul; the window is the threshold, the veil, where art and nature merge. Horwitz is a poet of what Keats called “gusto”, that is a recognition of the necessity of opposites, as binaries (the world) and as paradoxes (the soul).
The first poem, “Mzansi, my Beginning – Mzansi, my End”, alludes to Allen Ginsberg – another Jewish poet a long way from his spiritual home in the desert where you lose yourself to find yourself....Read more here

Monday, 14 October 2013

The dream continues

Launch of Zapp

ZAPP is a collaborative project on Southern African Poetry between Wits and Cambridge Universities. It aims to include and link universities, schools, teachers, teacher educators and practising poets across the country. ZAPP is about the power of South African Poetry, Word and Sound. The project will run from 2014-2016 and will be launched on Sunday 20 October in Melville and on Tuesday 22 October at Wits (Main Campus).

We invite you to attend both launches in your capacity as scholar, poet, teacher, student, or sheer poetry lover.

Poetry performances and an introduction to ZAPP.
Free workshops, panels, book launches, storytelling and fabulous poetry from local greats.

Outline of ZAPP by local and Cambridge representatives
Poetry reading and performance
Refreshments and snacks
Follow-up Special Interest session (optional)
Special Interest session immediately after launch for people who wish to participate in any part of the project during any phase. Please stay to signal your interest in any of the following: organisation and admin: poetry events; symposium; implementation in schools; teacher workshops; publications (Special Edition; Anthology; Teaching Manual and Guidelines) We welcome all those who are interested in making a contribution to the invigoration, promotion, study, teaching and writing of Southern African poetry to attend one or both of the launches.

Sunday 20 October, 13:00 – 18:00, at 7th Street venues -
The Lucky Bean, Sophiatown, Bambanani Restaurants and the IT café.
ZAPP LAUNCH 17:00 at Lucky Bean.

Tuesday 22 October, 16:00 - 17:00
Wits Writing Centre, Ground Floor, Wartenweiler Library, Wits Main
Campus, Braamfontein.
Special Interest Session: 17h00 – 18h00.

We look forward to seeing you!
Parking: Yale Road and Origins Centre, Wits University

RSVP and
Enquiries 011 717 4125 (Wits Writing Centre)
083 233 5270
084 678 1365

Friday, 11 October 2013

New title from Dye Hard Press: Off-ramp by Gary Cummiskey

Off-ramp is the debut short fiction collection of Gary Cummiskey and consists of ten stories often characterised by a surreal eroticism. Set mainly in contemporary South Africa, the book opens with a young man’s hallucinatory encounter with a derelict in a Johannesburg street; there is a couple’s visit to a sinister Free State farm; an editor who reluctantly agrees to meet an aspiring woman writer at midnight; two young men who go out on a drinking spree as the country teeters on civil war; a restless teenager who stalks an unknown woman; and a middle-aged academic who engages in an obsessive, sadistic relationship with a prostitute.

The stories in this startling collection offer a vision of individuals who are slowly being devoured by paranoia and absurdity. Beyond the off-ramp lies a pervasive, heavy dread and an unnameable, perhaps unknowable fear. Cummiskey creates an off-kilter reality that is both disturbing and compelling. 

140 pages.
ISBN: 978-0-9869982-3-2
Estimated retail price: R145.00

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Thursday, 03 October 2013

Deadline for applications for Rhodes MA in Creative Writing 2014

The deadline for applications for Rhodes MA in Creative Writing 2014 is coming up on October 31st. You can do the course full time over one year in Grahamstown, or part time over two years from where you live. The MA includes 16 weeks of coursework from wide range of teachers plus a book-length creative work which could be in English, isiXhosa or Afrikaans.  This can be a novel, non-fiction work, playscript, short story collection or poetry collection. All the teachers on the course are practising writers. Entry to the course requires a twenty page-portfolio of creative work and an honours degree. If you don’t have the necessary formal qualifications. entry to the course is still possible with an extensive publication record and/or outstanding potential as a writer. 

Go to  to find out more or email

On land

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Forthcoming from Dye Hard Press: Off-ramp by Gary Cummiskey

Gary Cummiskey's debut collection of short fiction, Off-ramp, is due to be published by Dye Hard Press in October 2013.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Monday, 23 September 2013

Milwaukee: a memoir about the making of the film Beat by Gary Walkow

With an introduction by Iain Sinclair and published by Beat Scene Press, Coventry, UK.  

Friday, 20 September 2013

Let's hope

Khulile Nxumalo and Kobus Moolman to participate in the 2013 Poetry Africa International Festival

The 17th Poetry Africa – International Poetry Festival presented in partnership with the City of Durban and the KZN Department of Arts and Culture is proud to announce the festival line-up, which promises to be an exhilarating showcase of diverse voices and sounds. Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) to take place from 14-19 October, this festival is a critical platform for self-expression that offers a space for cultural exchange in the city of Durban.
The festival’s line-up features a ground-breaking poetry project – a 12 track recorded album entitled Insurrections – featuring poets and ethnomusicologists from India and South Africa. The project sees the rich sounds of the Indian music tradition blend with African instruments accompanying radical poetry from both continents. The Insurrectionsensemble will be performed by musicians Sumangala Damodaran (India), Jürgen Brauninger (South Africa), Neo Muyanga (South Africa), Pritam Ghoshal (India), Brydon Bolton (South Africa), Bettina Schouw (South Africa), Sazi Dlamini (South Africa) and Paki Peloeole (South Africa). The poetry contingent for Insurrections will comprise of Ari Sitas (South Africa), Malika Ndlovu (South Africa), Sabita TP (India) and Vivek Narayanan (India). The ensemble will perform on Thursday, 17 October.
Keeping with the musical theme of this year’s edition, the festival will feature five poets who also work as recording musicians. Kabomo Vilakazi is a singer, songwriter and actor who also features in South African poetry circles. Nominated four times for the SAMAs and a former editor of youth culture magazine Y-Mag, his credentials in the entertainment industry are indeed formidable. Kalawi Jazmee artist Busiswa Gqulu returns to Poetry Africa in the middle of her impressive reign on the music charts throughout Africa. She first graced the Poetry Africa stage as part of the all-women poetry collective Basadzi Voices in 2008 and has also performed solo in 2010. South African poet Natalia Molebatsi is also a writer, facilitator and programme director who recently founded a South African-Italian music project with the band Soul Making. Her poetry is published in the books We Are.(2008) and Sardo Dance (2009). Durban-born poet, performer and MC (Ashleigh La Foy) is well-known on Durban stages for both her poetry and her musical prowess. Having earned her stripes as a female rapper, she will indulge Durban audiences with her poetic oeuvre ahead of her much-anticipated debut album. Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Pura Lavisa is a writer, performer and poet whose musical arrangements incorporate percussion and African sounds. Lavisa will be presenting a collection of poems mostly in isiXhosa.
Returning to the Poetry Africa stage, well-respected Soweto-born dub-poet and writer, Lesego Rampolokeng, will deliver an infectious brand of poetry influenced by Black Consciousness and rooted in the lived experience of people on the margins. Also from Soweto, Khulile Nxumalo will present works from his first title ten flapping elbows, mamaand his latest collection fhedzi, published by Die Hard Press. Critically acclaimed, Nxumalo was twice named the recipient of the DALRO prize for poetry. Nigerian-born poet Kole Odutola will also be reading his latest work at the festival. Odutola teaches at the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Florida and has published extensively both in academia and literature. Another participant with a background in teaching languages is Kobus Moolman, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Moolman’s latest collection Left Over is currently enjoying rave reviews in the press and his performance will allow an eager Durban audience a chance to celebrate his vast canon of works.
Johannesburg-based performance and slam poet Mandi Poefficient Vundla forms part of the Word n Sound collective and is featured on the online and print publications of Poetry Potion. Crowned ‘Queen of the Word and Sound Mic’ in 2012, she has graced numerous poetry stages including Arts Alive and Jozi Book Fair. Another young female voice featured in the line-up is Sanelisiwe Ntuli, a wordsmith from Hammersdale who writes and performs in isiZulu. Ntuli is a graduate of the Kwesukela Storytelling Academy and regularly features as a storyteller and voice artist on educational programmes of Ukhozi FM. Also writing in isiZulu is Professor Langalibalele F. Mathenjwa is holding a Doctor of Literature and Philosophy from UNISA. He is a published writer of isiZulu poetry, novels, short stories and folklore and has chair Usiba Writers Guild, South African Geographical Names Council, IsiZulu National Language Body and the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names-Africa South Division.
Four poets from the Irish poetry collective O’Bheal will present their work at the festival. This contingent consists of Paul Casey, Afric McGinchey, Billy Ramsel and American-born Raven. Completing the international line-up will be Ian Kamau (Canada), Barnabe Laye (Benin) and Raphael d'Abdon (Italy/ South Africa). Kamau is a writer, visual artist, hip hop and spoken word artist from Toronto, whose discography lists five collections, including the popular album One Day Soon (2011). He will be presenting additional workshops in advance of the festival. A poet and novelist, Laye has published a dozen books and is the recipient of the Nelligan Prize his lifetimes work. His most recent work is entitled Poems in Absent, a long wait (2010). D’Abdon is an Italian scholar, writer, editor and translator and a post-doctoral fellow in the English Studies Department at UNISA. As an editor, D’Abdon recently published Marikana - A Moment in Time, as well as an anthology of poetry about the massacre and his own collection, Sunnyside Nightwalk.
The festival’s community outreach programme will see poets visit over twenty community centres, campuses and tertiary education departments across Durban and beyond. In addition, participating poets will visit twenty schools to discuss reading, writing and the performance aspects of poetry.
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 17th Poetry Africa is funded by the City of Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The CCA is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, in the College of Humanities at UKZN.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cape Town Launch of Left Over by Kobus Moolman

The Cape Town launch of Kobus Moolman's new poetry collection Left Over will be held at the Book Lounge, on Thursday September 26, 5.30pm for 6pm. Moolman will be introduced by Liesl Jobson who will also lead a brief Q&A afterwards. 
RSVP or 021-462 2425

Thursday, 05 September 2013

Entry to the zone

Obituary for US poet and collagist Paul Grillo

"Each night on the corner of Hammer & Nails Sts./
The words of the screech owl bleed over the pavements/
and echo down airshafts through the Milky Way...." 

This was the opening of a poem by Philadelphia poet, artist and teacher Paul Grillo about the death of his friend, Beat Generation poet Gregory Corso, in January 2001. The poem, "Midnight on the Gethsemane Local," provides a look at Paul's creative vision, an often far-out blend of surrealism and reality, coloured by the influences of rock 'n' roll, jazz, foreign films and the music of the street....Read more here

L'air de la route - Bruno Sourdin

L'air de la route, a new collection of poems from French poet and collagist Bruno Sourdin, published by Gros Textes, Chateauroux-les-Alphes, 2013

Kobus Moolman on Poetry International Web

Kobus Moolman is one of those South African poets whose work shows a consistent and powerful inclination to explore new ground in both its form and content. He cites as influences a wide range of contemporary cultural ideas and figures, among them Japanese Butoh, the Tanztheater of Pina Bausch, non-representational art and disability studies. Among the writers who influence his work he names Paul Celan, Anne Carson, Robert Kroetsch, Inger Christensen, Thomas Bernhard and the South African poet Karen Press...Read more here

Tuesday, 03 September 2013

At the launch of Haidee Kruger's The Reckless Sleeper, in December 2012

In conversation with Haidee Kruger about her poetry collection The Reckless Sleeper, published by Modjaji Books.

Love Books owner Kate Rogan does the intros at the launch.

Sunday, 01 September 2013

Pietermaritzburg launch of Kobus Moolman's Left Over

The Pietermaritzburg launch of Kobus Moolman's Left Over will be on Sunday, September 8 at 11am at Café Tatham at the Tatham Art Gallery. RSVP

Friday, 30 August 2013

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Vibes of the Saints - Paul Grillo

US poet and collagist Paul Grillo passed away earlier this week. One of his collections was Vibes of the Saints, published by Cherry Valley Editions in 1977, with an introduction by Claude Pelieu-Washburn.
Two of Grillo's poems were published in Green Dragon #3.

Moolman launches sixth poetry book

Award-winning poet and playwright Kobus Moolman will launch his sixth collection of poems, Left Over (Dye Hard Press), at Ike’s Bookshop tomorrow (Thursday, August 29) at 6 pm.
Moolman, who teaches creative writing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has just returned from a three-month writer’s residency at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. ...Read more here

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Durban launch of Kobus Moolman's Left Over

The Durban launch of Kobus Moolman's latest poetry collection, Left Over, will be held on Thursday, 29 August, 5.30pm for 6pm at Ike’s Books, 48A Florida Road, Durban. 
Telephone: 031 303 9214. 

RSVP Cedric Sissing at or on 082 873 2702.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Friday, 09 August 2013

Ramblin' on my mind

Private Archaeology

Private Archaeology, a chapbook of poems by D.R. Wagner, published by Bottle of Smoke Press, Delaware, 2013.

Sunday, 04 August 2013

Saturday, 03 August 2013

The Rhodes MA in Creative Writing

Rhodes University’s MA in Creative Writing is open for applications for 2014. You can do the course full time over one year in Grahamstown or part time over two years from wherever you live.  The MA includes 16 weeks of coursework from several teachers followed by a book-length creative work which can be written in English, isiXhosa or Afrikaans.  This can be a novel, non-fiction work, playscript, short story collection or poetry collection.

All the teachers on the course are practising writers: Joan Metelerkamp, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Brian Walter, Paul Wessels, Joanne Hichens, Anton Krueger, Ingrid Winterbach, Rian Malan, Godfrey Meintjes, Russell Kaschula, Hazel Crampton, Paul Mason, Eben Venter and Robert Berold.  Plus you will get input from writers in residence, who have recently included Lesego Rampolokeng, Kobus Moolman, and Soga Mlandu.

Entry to the course requires a twenty page portfolio of creative work and an honours degree. If you don’t have the necessary formal qualifications, acceptance is still possible with an extensive publication record and/or outstanding potential as a writer.

Deadline for applications is 30 October 2013 but entries are already open. Places are limited. 
Go to to find out more.

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